Joe Thornton reached out Friday to players who had just become his former teammates to let them know he was moving on from the Sharks.
The gesture was not a surprise to San Jose captain Logan Couture.
“That’s just who Joe is. Such a respectful person,” Couture told Kevin Kurz of The Athletic after Thornton agreed to a one-year, $700,000 contract with the Maple Leafs.
Couture also summed up the feeling of loss within the organization after getting the news directly from the franchise icon.
“I guess it’s fair to say that I’m still kind of numb about it,” Couture told Kurz.
The Sharks’ official Twitter account didn’t want to accept Jumbo Joe moving east, either.
Going to log off for a bit. Brb. Maybe.
— San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) October 16, 2020
Patrick Marleau (through his wife’s account), Brent Burns, Erik Karlsson, Kevin Labanc and Evander Kane all took to social media to salute Thornton as a teammate, mentor and friend:
For more than two decades, Jumbo and I have been friends, with the vast majority of those years being teammates, too. I now consider him a brother. Toronto has gained a tremendous influence, and we will miss his presence here in San Jose. Good luck in TO! -PM pic.twitter.com/pE09ZLjllz
— Christina Marleau (@c_marleau) October 17, 2020
Mentor, line mate, friend and all of the above. Going to miss having him around the locker room. They don’t make them like him anymore! You got a good one @MapleLeafs. Good luck in Blue Jumbo! pic.twitter.com/gyDlWqRMNe
— Kevin Labanc (@Str8ToTheBanc) October 16, 2020
Man I’m going to miss ya, but feel very fortunate to play with you and become great friends. So many fun memories in a short period of time. I’ll make sure to keep your seat next to me at the back of the plane vacant until you come back. pic.twitter.com/i2sJdY23nr
— Evander Kane (@evanderkane_9) October 16, 2020
Before Ontario native Thornton has his homecoming with the Leafs, he will stay in hockey shape by playing in the Swiss league for HC Davos. This is his third stint with the club; the previous two came during NHL labor disputes in 2004-05 and 2012-13, respectively.